The Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Western Sydney project investigates the contributions that NSW community colleges make to the economic development of that region, and how these contributions can be expanded. The project aims to ensure that the NSW Government can use the capacity of the NSW community education providers in Western Sydney, supporting economic development and providing new program models and linkages.
Eleven community education providers currently operate in Greater Western Sydney: The Parramatta College, Macquarie Community College, Nepean Community College, Macarthur Community College, JobQuest, MTC Australia and the Deaf Society are all headquartered in the region, and VERTO, Sydney Community College, Bankstown Community College (BCCI), Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Community College and St George & Sutherland Community College all deliver significant services within the region. Together these organisations supply a valuable economic development resource for Western Sydney, a resource that is not yet not fully utilised. This project is intended to realise the potential of this resource.
CCA is surveying and mapping the skills and economic development activities of Western Sydney community providers and documenting case studies of selected community regional economic development projects that can serve as models for the future.
Why Western Sydney?
Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy, after Sydney and Melbourne central business districts. It has numerous economic attractions and advantages, notably a rapidly growing Parramatta central business district, the planned Badgerys Creek airport, rich rural and agricultural lands, historical sites, important recreational and sporting facilities, great bushland and World Heritage-listed wildernesses in the Blue Mountains, the Hawkesbury- Nepean river system, and its own university – the multi-campus Western Sydney University.
Despite a booming population growth, the region’s economy has been unable to keep up, with the ratio of jobs to residents falling consistently since the year 2000. More than 2.2 million people live in greater Western Sydney, 35% of them born overseas, from more than 170 countries and speaking more than 100 languages. Many of the economic challenges that face regional and rural NSW also face Western Sydney, including:
- lack of transport accessibility, especially to centres of employment but also to other services, frequently necessitating long commutes and extensive reliance on automotive travel;
- locally significant unemployment, especially among young people, Indigenous people and new migrants;
- significant pockets of poverty and disadvantage; and
- an economy heavily reliant on manufacturing and other 20th century industries, which are expected to continue to decline over the next 20 years.
The pockets of disadvantage can be profound, with some of the most deprived areas in Australia. Bernard Salt describes “an arc of adversity” that ranges from Granville through Fairfield to Cabramatta to west of Liverpool. Bernard Salt writes:
More than a century ago urban disadvantage clustered … in Sydney’s Redfern, within walking distance of factories. Across the course of two generations the poor of the inner city have been propelled outward as if by some centrifugal force to the city’s edges, to Cabramatta…. That force is a confluence of megatrends that transferred manufacturing jobs to Guangzhou and that rewarded knowledge workers with the exquisite amenity of the inner city.
These macro-economic forces are only part of the many challenges that face Western Sydney. Given that one in ten Australians lives in Western Sydney, its importance to Australia’s economic well-being and future prosperity cannot be overstated.
CCA is undertaking this project to ensure that the Western Sydney becomes a stronger and more connected region. We intend that this project will increase the region’s post-secondary education and training capacity and accessibility, conducted in local centres by the region’s adult and community education providers.
About the Project Logo
The logo for the Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Project symbolises the Blue Mountains – visible from almost everywhere in the region – and the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system, which encircles metropolitan Sydney.
CCA acknowledges that our October 26th Forum in Parramatta will take place on the land of the Darug people, the traditional owners of this land. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now reside in the area.